Sep 23, 2015
Stark700 (All reviews)
I’m not going to lie. Watching Himouto! Umaru-chan (My Two-Faced Little Sister) makes me feel like a kid all over again. Each week, each episode is like an indoor and outdoor adventure of its own. Titular character Umaru Doma is the class superstar as well as the model that almost everyone looks up to. Her brother, Taihei Doma, is kind of like the sidekick providing her shelter, food, and a sense of comfort for her when she’s living at home. Really though, this series took me by surprise like an unexpected storm. And I’m talking about the type of otaku storm where you have to see it to believe it.

Based on the 4-koma of the same name, the series is adapted by studio Doga Kobo. In recent years, they are better known for their work with slice of life stories. Essentially, that’s how this show is like. The first episode easily establishes Umaru’s ulterior character. She literally lives a double life. At school, she acts mature, friendly, and in general someone that people idolizes. At home, she is almost the complete opposite with a lazy lifestyle, obsessive otaku personality, and acts like a NEET. This makes the show a bit odd at first seeing how each episode reflects on her double life style. What the series does well on this perspective is to demonstrate genuine comedy. The show makes fun of the otaku culture by saturating it with an immense amount of parody. Umaru’s character is someone that people would least expect to be an otaku from the outside. Yet, the show satires that with her lifestyle at home. In retrospect, the show delivers what I would call a cultural comedy.

The series also consists of other characters ranging from Umaru’s shy childhood friend Ebina, self-proclaimed rival Sylphynford, and the bizarre and frightening girl, Kirie Motoba. Each of them has a different personality that makes them stand out on their own. Their interactions with Umaru usually brings out the honesty of their characters. Furthermore, each episode provides a better insight about Umaru as well. We learn more about Umaru from both sides of her lifestyle. And through that, the show can make us feel attached to the characters. Umaru’s relationship with her brother can also be quite entertaining to watch. Her brother is the average type of guy with an average job and working an average salary. Umaru often makes him run errands for her although she sometimes gets scolded. Their relationship is the typical brother and sister type with no absurdity involving incest or abuse. As lighthearted as it can be though, the chemistry between some characters can be a bit dull. While most times, the on-screen chemistry has an attachable feel, the concepts are usually recycled tropes. Umaru’s otaku lifestyle can also be a bit odd to get used to considering that it’s so different compared to the outer image she created at school. Selfish and lazy. Those are not good attributes for a young girl like her. But even so, the show satires her personality and connects them with her lifestyle without over exaggeration.

Despite the series focuses on a more episodic basis, there are a few reoccurring elements throughout the story. Umaru’s double life is obviously one of them but also some of the competition she faces. This includes her love of video games and she later on creates a third personality specifically used to face her rival Sylphynford. Kirie’s relationship with Umaru also brings an interesting idea to the show. “Will someone at school eventually discover Umaru’s true identity and personality?” The show almost made this slip apart in the early stages and often or not, it keeps the audience at their seat of wondering that question. Finally, while there’s no actual dramatic romance in the show, we do get a bit of the puppy love with Ebina. Like I mentioned before, the main supporting characters consists of different personalities and roles to make this series colorful and diverse.

In essence, the artwork is simplistic yet effective. Umaru’s outer image is crafted with an appealing appearance with her perfectly rounded face, smile, colorful hair, and even body structure as shown in pool class. However, the more entertaining aspect comes with her deformed character. When at home, her character design is that of a kid wearing a hamster shaped hoodie. Furthermore, her behavior and reactions are often like a spoiled brat. The visual style and reactive expressions makes us believe who she is as the two-faced little sister. On the contrary, her brother looks average all throughout the series. And while there’s no explicit fan service in the series, Ebina’s character is designed ways that can raise some eyebrows. All that aside, the artwork is well done in terms of overall coverage.

The show’s soundtrack is not to be underestimated. Although it lacks any sort of distinctive OST, the way comedic scenes are done is often convincing thanks to the matching soundtrack. Similarly, conversations and dialogues performed by the characters makes you curious about what they will say next often. This is especially true for Umaru as she leads a double life. And from her performance, Umaru’s VA Ami Tanaka deserves a bit of praise for portraying a character with completely different personalities. Other noticeable voices includes Kirie with her intimidating tone or Sylphynford’s pride. The OP and ED theme songs are also creatively done. In particular, the OP song fuses the double life imagery of Umaru.

Although Himouto! Umaru-chan runs the risk of being a big joke, it ultimately has enough comedy and convincingly gets the audience to laugh. There’s enough jokes in the series that makes it look like satire and in general makes fun of the otaku culture thanks to Umaru. It also has enough time to not forget about the other characters. Furthermore, Umaru’s daily adventures will often get the audience curious to see what she is capable of doing next. As a series that stars a peculiar girl with two-faces, this is more than just a show about a brother and sister.